Dependent Personality Disorder Facts

People with Dependent Personality Disorder have a deep-seated need to be taken care of. (APA, 2013) As a result, they are “clingy” and obedient; afraid of being separated from their parent, spouse or other person they may be in a close relationship with. They rely on others for nearly everything, and for the most part cannot make the simplest of decisions for themselves. They habitually demonstrate extreme feelings of inadequacy and helplessness. Many cling to relationships with partners who abuse them both physically and emotionally. (Loas et al, 2011)

Fear of Rejection

Lacking self-confidence in their own abilities and judgements, and having such low self-esteem, people with this disorder usually agree with others and allow nearly all decisions, even important ones, to be made for them. They often depend on a parent or spouse to make decisoins on where to live, what career to purse, even what neighbors to befriend. They continually try to meet the expectations of others for fear of rejection or disapproval, even if it entails performing unpleasant or demeaning tasks.

People with dependent personality disorder feel distressed, sad and lonely, and often dislike themselves. As a result, they are at risk for depressive, anxiety and eating disorders. Their fear of separation and feelings of helplessness may leave them particularly prone to thoughts of suicide, especially when they believe a relationship is about to end. (Kiev, 1989)

Smartphone Anxiety

Research studies show that over two percent of the population may experience dependent personality disorder. (Paris, 2010; Mattia & Zimmerman, 2001) But this estimate may be increasing dramatically as the recent proliferation of smartphones has created a widespread psychological dependence on them. Although not officially a disorder, studies reveal that some users react with intense anxiety, physical discomfort, feelings of separation, and a loss of self-esteem when forced to shut off their phones for more than a few minutes. (Chaparro, 2004)

Childhood Abandonment Issues

A common cause for this personality problem is similar to depression. Freudian theorists believe that unresolved conflicts during the oral stage of development, i.e., the first eighteen months, give rise to a lifelong need for nurturance, thus heightening the likelihood of a dependent personality disorder. (Bernstein, 2007, 2005) Other theorists argue that early parental loss or rejection may prevent normal experiences of attachment and separation, leaving some children with feelings of abandonment that can persist throughout their lives. (Caligor & Clarkin, 2010) Yet still other theorists suggest the opposite: that in many cases parents of people with this disorder were over-involved and over-protective, thus increasing their children’s dependency, insecurity and separation anxiety. (Sperry, 2003)

Acceptance & Assertivess Training

A key task for people with this disorder is to accept reponsibility for themselves. Acceptance and assertiveness training is necessary to better express their own wishes in relationships, and to help them change assumptions of their own incompetence and helplessness. Domineering behaviors of a spouse, partner or parent can make symptoms worse, suggesting that separate therapeutic work be undertaken by them as well. (Beck & Weishaar, 2011; Beck et al, 2004)

This report is not a diagnosis. We hope this information can guide you toward improving your life.

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